Md. officers involved in shooting return to full duty; chief cites pandemic staffing issues

Six Hyattsville police officers who had been on administrative duty following a fatal Maryland shooting have been returned to full-duty status.

Hyattsville Police Chief Amal Awad said her department has been short-staffed for a year and fears the situation would worsen if any of her officers were to test positive for COVID-19.

“We simply cannot afford to continue operating at these levels as it could compromise officer response times and the safety of our city,” Awad said in a statement Tuesday.

At one point, the department was without 13 officers as it faced recruitment and retention challenges, said Scott Dunklee, the city’s deputy chief of police.

The department is authorized to staff 46 officers. As of Tuesday night, it has 36 full-time officers, Dunklee told WTOP.

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These Hyattsville officers — as well as one Mount Ranier officer and three Prince George’s County officers — were involved in the shooting of 49-year-old Leonard Shand on Sept. 26.

Authorities said Shand was wielding two knives and had ignored repeated attempts to de-escalate while officers confronted him near Toledo and Belcrest roads, behind The Mall at Prince George’s. He was shot after nonlethal weapons were used and as he reportedly tried to charge one officer.

Days earlier, police said, Shand had attacked an employee of a nearby coffee shop.

An investigation into the September shooting — which is being led by Prince George’s County police — is still underway.

The six officers will return “to their respective patrol, investigative and community services assignments,” according to the statement, which also said the chief will update officials and the public on any major developments in the ongoing investigation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Prince George’s County particularly hard. As of Tuesday, the county had over 2,300 confirmed cases — the worst in Maryland.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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